Fox 31 reported that South High School “held an assembly in which a video called ‘Don’t be a Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks’ was shown” to students on August 23, 2022. The video provided students with several controversial tips, including to “avoid the police” when dealing with a racial attack. The narrator of the video explains:
Armed police presence often escalates rather than reduces the risk of violence in a situation. Because police have been trained to see people of color, gender nonconforming folks, and Muslims as criminals, they often treat victims as perpetrators of violence. So if the victim hasn’t asked you to call the police, do not – I repeat – do not call the police.
The next tip in the video is to “call out the everyday culture of white supremacy.” The host of the video explains that “the culture of white supremacy and anti-blackness is perpetrated by our media, political systems, and social media.” The host then states: “If you’re white yourself, talk to your white family and friends about anti-blackness and white supremacy. Do it everyday, especially when you’re in an all white space.”
The last tip is to “organize and protest for justice.” The host of the video encourages viewers to “canvas,” “phone bank,” “write letters,” “create art,” or take “it to the streets.” She encourages viewers to contribute financially to protests: “But if you don’t have time for that, you could always support the marginalized populations who are on the frontlines of this work financially. White supremacy and anti-blackness affects all of us, and fighting against it affirms all of our humanity.”
Fox 31 reported that the video was created by the “Barnard Center for Research on Women, which is a part of Barnard College at Columbia University.” The organization explains in the description of the video: “Connecting individual acts of violence to a broader systemic analysis, this video is intended to be a resource for activists, students, educators, and anyone who wants to interrupt the violence of white supremacy and anti-blackness.” The organization explains online that it “brings scholars and activists together through its working groups, public events, publications, and multimedia projects to advance intersectional social justice feminist analyses and to promote social transformation.” Denver 7 ABC reported that the video was created in 2017.
On August 24, 2022, South High School published a letter from the principal addressing the video. While she did not apologize for the video, the principal explained that “the intention behind the video was to provide empowerment for people who may witness these types of attacks, not to have any sort of negative impact on the longstanding relationship between the Denver Public Schools and the Denver Police Department.”
Denver 7 ABC published a statement from Denver Public Schools on the video. The school district explained that “the video was not fully vetted prior to its viewing.” The district then continued to explain: “While some communities of color report that they are over-policed and disproportionately impacted by the presence of law enforcement, nonetheless, there are some narratives in this video that we do not subscribe to in DPS.”